WestJet To Base All 787s, Long-Haul Flying At Calgary

Credit: Rob Finlayson

WestJet, Canada’s second largest airline, said it will make its Calgary (YYC) home base the carrier’s “single global connecting hub” where all long-haul international flying will be focused.

The airline and the government of the province of Alberta–Calgary is Alberta’s largest city–have signed an agreement aimed at jointly developing flying from YYC with an emphasis on long-haul routes. The Alberta government will invest an undisclosed amount of money “in developing Alberta's aviation sector,” the carrier said in a statement.

The agreement also “further lays out strategic, collaborative priorities to ensure provincial policies are aligned and in support of the development of the entire aviation industry in Alberta," WestJet said.

WestJet will designate YYC “as its single global connecting hub and will concentrate all intercontinental [Boeing 787] flying in Calgary, unlocking opportunity for new routes within North America, to Europe [and] with the potential to reach Asia.”

The airline also plans to grow “mid-range” routes from YYC, where it has promised to double current capacity levels by 2030.

WestJet operates seven 787s, all of which will be based at Calgary rather than at multiple Canadian airports as is now the case.

The announcement of the WestJet-Alberta partnership comes just a week after WestJet signed an order with Boeing for 42 737 MAX aircraft, bringing to 65 the number of the type it has on order.

"Alberta has been WestJet's home for 26 years and today's historic agreement builds upon an existing foundation of low taxes and investment-friendly policies,” WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said Oct. 5. “As Western Canada's home team carrier, Alberta is an area where we want to continue to invest to secure WestJet's thriving future.”

WestJet was founded in 1996 as a small, western Canada-focused LCC based at YYC. It has grown significantly to become a formidable competitor to Air Canada with an expansive domestic network and a growing international network.

Von Hoensbroech added: "This agreement is a testament to WestJet's commitment to our global hub airport in Calgary, as investments like this can only occur under the right commercial and operational environments. Calgary International Airport is providing us that confidence and with these investments, Calgary can become North America's most connected mid-sized city."

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.